What Joe Biden’s Latest Gaffe Reveals


Another Joe Biden gaffe: “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” That was yesterday, before the Asian and Latino Commission in Des Moines, Iowa. And Biden knew it was one—he immediately tried to clarify with, “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids. No, I really mean it. But think how we think about it. We think how we’re going to dumb it down. They can do anything anybody else can do, given a shot.” But still—“white” kids versus “poor” ones. The reason even Biden’s fans are cringing at this remark is that it implies an equation between being poor and being a person of color, and perhaps also that all high-achieving students are white. And it isn’t the first time Biden has let slip sociological assumptions of this kind. Who can forget Biden sunnily crowing that Barack Obama, when first running for president, was a godsend in being a “mainstream” African American who combined the traits of being “articulate and bright and clean.” Besides the memory-friendly ABC sequence of the words, that remark was almost uncannily complete in summing up age-old stereotypes about what it is to be black.

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